Account-based marketing (ABM) is one of the most effective marketing strategies available today. For several years, the vast majority of marketers have recognised the exceptional ROI that ABM offers. One study found that 85% of marketers that monitor ROI believe that ABM outperforms other marketing investments.
Still, marketing departments are prone to make several mistakes in their implementation of account-based marketing. Even as ABM increases in popularity, common pitfalls remain in place. This article will discuss 6 ABM-related mistakes that marketers make, and how to avoid them. Companies that leverage ABM without falling into one of these traps will inevitably outpace their competitors in lead generation, conversion rates, and ultimately revenue streams.
1. No Clearly Defined Strategy
The first and most fundamental mistake that marketers make is not clearly defining their company’s ABM strategy. Make no mistake: account-based marketing is not merely a tactic, or marketing approach; rather, it is a far-reaching plan based on prioritising high-yield targets and cultivating customers with above average lifetime values. ABM is the marketing “rifle” compared to the “shotgun” that so many organisations use.
Without clear parameters in place, however, ABM loses much of its impact. In order to unleash the latent power in account-based marketing, you must determine the answers to the following questions:
- Does the company need to focus on new or existing customers for continued growth?
- Should target customers be “lookalikes,” or prospects that reside in an adjacent space, or even a completely new sector?
- Which marketing tools will be most effective in converting new customers, or increasing the value of existing customers?
In order to answer these and other questions, research is imperative. For instance, you should collect data from the company’s best current customers, and identify important trends. Deep research into such factors can inform the creation of the company’s ideal customer profile (ICP) going forward.
2. Lack of Specific Market Analysis
Along with a clearly defined strategy, it is imperative that you understand the state of the market for your company. While a generalised grasp of the marketplace is helpful, only a deep dive into data relevant to your company’s total addressable market (TAM) will yield helpful and actionable insights.
What are some factors you need to consider when performing market analysis? Focus on data points that are most relevant to your specific product or service, such as:
- The number and names of companies spending on a particular product or service
- The amount that each prospect spends on a regular basis
- How many companies utilise your competitors
- Which companies have accounts with your competitors that are about to expire
- Which companies have contacts that are accessible to your sales/marketing team
It is important to note that as you conduct market research and begin to form your list of target accounts, you may uncover a lot of “intent”-oriented data. While buyer intent can serve as a useful indicator for which accounts to prioritise, don’t confuse “intent” with active interest. Stick as closely as possible to quantitative data when prioritising the target accounts.
3. Letting Only Sales Decide Account Selection At The Start of ABM Program
So many marketing departments allow sales to decide which accounts should be placed at the top of the priority list. While there should be a strong culture of collaboration between the sales and marketing teams, a list of target accounts from the sales department will often point marketers to the “toughest sells” in the market. This may not be the best place to start an ABM program.
Instead of totally leaning on sales for the selection of high-priority accounts, many marketing departments have implemented an ABM pilot program using a small percentage of sales-recommended accounts as the main targets. This can help to strengthen the collaborative ties between the two departments, and serve as a test run to help work out the bugs in the ABM workflow. As a result, the marketing team will have some hard data with which to coach the sales team for qualifying future referrals.
4. Lack of Effective Account Personalisation
Many ABM teams fail to correctly identify where accounts are currently located within the sales funnel. One significant effect of this confusion is a gaping lack of personalised content directed to middle or bottom-funnel prospects; or conversely, an excess of personalised content wasted on top-funnel leads.
It is important to save the bulk of your personalisation efforts, such as customised messages, account-specific portals, and company-specific content, only for your top accounts. Such personalisation requires a significant investment from your end, so it only makes sense to invest in those accounts that will yield the highest returns.
5. Neglect of Contacts
While automated ABM software has its place, people close deals, not accounts. Thus, it is vital that you never allow your ABM strategy to get in the way of cultivating business relationships with the individual decision-makers located within targeted accounts. Moreover, for each account it is a wise idea to map out your contacts, filtered by level of decision-making authority, motivation, and other key factors.
6. Failure to Perform Regular Tests
You should periodically audit your ABM program, based on clear and measurable KPIs. You may want to look at such metrics as:
- How often your team is engaging with account contacts, and the quality of those interactions
- The number of accounts that you are closing compared to your business goals
- A comparison of results from your ABM program versus more traditional inbound or outbound initiatives
Additionally, be sure to streamline your data infrastructure to ensure that information across all departments can be pooled together for trend analysis and process optimisation.
Even though these ABM pitfalls are common in the marketing industry, with some forethought and collaboration you can avoid them, and guarantee maximum results from your ABM program.
Of course, implementing an effective ABM strategy has many moving parts, and can seem overwhelming at times. At Grow Digitally, we are here to help you navigate the complexities of ABM. In fact, we help our clients to execute high ROI growth marketing solutions across the board. If you’d like to learn more about how we can assist your company to leverage account-based marketing, or other key growth strategies, reach out to us today to talk.